Private Internet Access is a US-based VPN provider delivering its services through 3300+ servers globally.
During Private Internet Access review, I found different features like no logging, GDPR compliance, affordable pricing, compatibility, multi-login, tunneling protocols and encryption equal to the task.
You can subscribe to your preferred pricing plan from its monthly, yearly, two-yearly at the cost of $9.95, $5.99 and $3.49 per month respectively.
Also, you can check a quick overview of dozens of other VPNs in our top VPN review page.
The US based VPN service has added another feather in its cap by adding “Handshake Naming System” technology in its armory.
Hence, you can change the selected Name Server from PIA DNS (Domain Name System) servers to any Handshake Name System (HNS) servers if you are using Mac, Linux or Windows devices.
Once you have changed the settings, you can surf the web securely and anonymously from anywhere. Here is how you can do to enable HNS in your PIA settings:
- From your Private Internet Access settings window, you should right click the PIA system tray icon
- You must left click on settings, the settings window will popup on the screen
- Go to the Network tab, change PIA “DNS” to “Handshake” from the drop down menu
- Connect to PIA server to enforce the name server change effectively
My Rating Criteria
I have tested Private Internet Access through my eight (8) steps rating criteria. These steps are:
- Pricing – How much is the cost of Private Internet Access?
- Security – Protocols, Encryption & Features
- Jurisdiction – Exists in 5 Eyes Country
- Speed – On the Lower Side
- Streaming – Does it Unblock Netflix & Other Services?
- Leaks – DNS, IP, WebRTC & App File Tests
- Trustworthiness – Logging Policy, GDPR Compliance, Transparency, Support & Trustpilot Reviews
- Compatibility – Supports Different Platforms & Devices
Pricing – How much is the cost of Private Internet Access?
PIA VPN has affordable pricing plans for their existing as well as new users.
There are three basic package plans offered by this VPN service: Monthly Package Plan, Yearly Package Plan and Two Years Package Plan.
All these provide all the benefits that this VPN offers. This means you will get the same servers, protocol options and security features on all of these packages.
The VPN offers 12 months package plan for just $5.99/month. This is a ridiculously low price when you compare it with the cost of some other VPNs.
In addition, if you commit for a longer period, you get even more discount.
There is no Private Internet Access Lifetime package extendable up to five years.
Instead, the VPN offers a 2-year package.
The two years package requires you to pay $3.49/month. All this puts this VPN straight in the cheap VPN territory.
Payment Methods: Bitcoin and Much More
The VPN currently accepts payments via Credit Cards, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, PayPal, Amazon, Ripple, Amazon Pay, and Mint. It also provides a variety of cryptocurrencies.
While most VPN providers take the high road when it comes to accepting cryptocurrencies, this VPN goes all in.
Moreover, you can use PIA gift card option for anonymous payment.
This shows that providers are serious about their commitment to the privacy of the users.
Money-Back Guarantee/Refund Policy
The VPN service providers that do not offer a free trial often present a money-back guarantee with their service. PIA refund policy states that you can get your money back within 7 days of the payment.
Still, a free trial is an enforcer like no other. Hence, this is one of the aspects of the VPN, I did not like.
In case of multi-login, PIA has not disappointed its subscribers. You can secure your 10 multiple devices with a single PIA account.
Security – Protocols, Encryptions & Features
On security front, PIA has included all the desired tunneling protocols and encryption levels in its armory.
I studied the security features of this VPN and learned that the provider offers three tunneling protocols:
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)
- L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)
- SOCKS5 Proxy Tunnel
PPTP is an obsolete protocol that has proven vulnerable. In spite of this, some Netizens use it for surpassing geo-limitations.
In addition, it satisfies the needs associated with anonymity as your real IP is masked the moment you connect a VPN. L2TP, on the other hand, is a sophisticated protocol that offers absolute anonymity and competent security.
OpenVPN is a popular protocol thanks to its open-source nature. It is widely used due to its ability to balance speed with security.
A newer and unusual option is SOCKS5 proxy. This option is mostly used for streaming purpose as it provides good speed.
PIA proxy settings provide minimalistic security but unblock geo-locked content.
Along with these protocols, PIA offers military-grade 256-bit encryption. This encryption level has even found takers in global corporations and security agencies.
Furthermore, you can use its customized SHA-1 or SHA-256 encryption. Likewise, the VPN uses RSA-2048 public key encryption to setup handshakes between clients and servers.
The kill switch disconnects your internet if you lose your VPN connection for one reason or the other.
This stops your actual IP address from getting exposed to your local ISP or the site you are visiting.
PIA has a built-in kill switch that protects your identity even on unreliable servers.
What makes PIA a standout VPN service from its competitors is its encrypted Wi-Fi feature. When you use Private Internet Access on your Wi-Fi, it protects the device through WPA protocol first.
Therefore, you have to provide an authentication key before using the VPN on Wi-Fi devices.
SOCKS5 proxy offers an additional layer of authentication as it only allows authorized users when it comes to accessing the servers.
In addition, it provides an appreciable connection speed as compared to the connection speeds of different VPNs.
Sadly, it does not have the required level of encryption for its users.
Block Ads & Malware
Private Internet Access has an exclusive malware blocking benefit by the name of PIA Mace.
It helps you in blocking notorious ads and trackers as well.
PIA secures from KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack)
KRACK is an online privacy attack in which other users on the same network can gain access to your internet data you transfer through Wi-Fi.
Moreover, it does have negative impacts on all kinds of WPA2, a protocol that asks for an authentication key before connecting you over Wi-Fi network.
In this situation, a role of VPN becomes crucial and no VPN service comes closer when you want to secure yourself from KRACK attack.
PIA VPN Tools
In terms of privacy, Private Internet Access does not disappoint you at all. Here is the list of various privacy tools PIA provides to their users:
- DNS Leak Test
- IPv6 Test
- Email Leak Test
Through DNS leak test, you can secure your DNS information to new heights.
The same goes for IPv6 and email test too.
This way, you can protect your IPv6 addresses hassle-free.
An email could leak your actual IP address hence, this test enables you in safeguarding your real IP addresses while sending emails.
Jurisdiction – Exists in 5 Eyes Country
Unfortunately, PIA mainly hails from the US.
On one hand, the USA has no law that requires VPNs to maintain activity log of the user. On the other hand, it is quite possibly the worst place for VPN to based in.
Ever since the revelation of Edward Snowden, everyone and their uncle know that American agencies spy on their citizens.
Moreover, the American government has some of the most advanced software to do that spying. Therefore, a US-based VPN will always have a hard time convincing its users of guaranteed privacy.
Surprisingly, PIA is owned by London Trust Media Inc. which is an American organization situated in the state of Indiana.
Hence, I encourage you all to do your research. Read the privacy of this VPN before opting for it.
For complete awareness, you should check out our guide that provides a detailed answer to your question “which countries lie under fourteen eyes VPN“.
Decent Server Coverage (Exists in all the Leading Regions)
There are many reasons that justify the need of a VPN. The number of servers offered by a VPN service provider serves as the key enforcer while making a purchase decision.
The VPN servers along with the geographic location of their presence allow users to access a broad range of geo-restricted content.
If you review the server list of PIA VPN yourself, you would realize that the VPN gives you access to more than 3300+ servers geographically scattered in different regions.
Currently, the VPN has its servers located in more than 30+ countries: U.S, Canada, U.K, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Isreal, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong and others.
Keep in mind that many of these servers are in fact, PIA proxy servers.
When you connect to a particular server, you will be assigned an IP of that respective region. Hence, you can access any geo-restricted content produced for the native eyes only.
Speed – On the Lower Side
PIA delivers below-average connection speeds.
No matter how much I research about this VPN, I can only hypothesize about its performance.
In order to add valid rationale justifying the VPN’s performance, I conducted some speed tests to check the reliability of the service in this review.
Find here the PIA VPN speed test results while connected to different servers.
I connected using a 30 Mbps connection and the snapshot given below portrays the results revealed by the speed test.
After this, I examined the speed of Private Internet Access UK server. The snapshot given below portrays the PIA speed test results for the UK.
Ping has increased from 4 to 122 ms – which is a cause of concern. Download speed however was affected as it dropped from 22.60 Mbps to 18.46 Mbps. The good news is that upload speed wasn’t deteriorated much (30.34 Mbps – before connecting a VPN, 25.91 Mbps – after connecting a VPN).
Overall, in my test, this proved to be the fastest PIA server.
After testing the PIA VPN UK servers, I tested Switzerland in order to authenticate the results at much greater extent.
The snapshot given below reveals the results of speed test after connecting to the Switzerland server.
Ping enhanced a little bit more and the download speed was affected as well.
However, upload speed improved as compared to the results extracted while being connected to a UK server.
The process does not end here. I tested the VPN’s France server as well. The ping rose from 0 ms to 311 ms here. Download speed after connecting a VPN was 11.62 Mbps and upload speed was 5.64 Mbps.
Wait! There’s more. I tested the Netherlands server also and the results were a little bit different than the previous ones. Ping was 144 ms, download speed was 6.26 Mbps and upload speed was 24.80 Mbps.
After testing different servers, it can be deduced that download speed was significantly affected every time I connected a VPN. However, this is a widely accepted fact that a VPN affects your actual Internet speed. So, an approximate drop of Internet speed by 40-45% should really be a concern here – I guess.
The results derived for PIA VPN review show that the performance of this VPN is less than impressive.
However, connection speeds also depend on the internet speeds provided by your ISP. If your ISP speeds are slow, your VPN will also offer lower speeds.
The saving grace is that the VPN’s servers is that they do not affect the upload speed much. This is good news for all those who love to share. Furthermore, the ping is affected as well, which is bad news for all gamers seeking a VPN.
Streaming – Does it Unblock Netflix & Other Services?
Surprisingly, PIA does not unblock US Netflix media library.
Netflix is a great source of entertainment. It provides access to quality movies, shows, documentaries, and other similar content.
Yet, this streaming service has its limitation. It blocks certain content in some countries due to copyright issues.
Thankfully, VPNs can unlock restricted content on Netflix. With a capable VPN, you can enjoy Netflix with no limitations.
The bad news is that this VPN that is particularly good in unlocking content on Netflix. In my test, the streaming site detected the VPN with no real difficulty.
I hope that the PIA Netflix service will improve in the near future. I look forward to a Private Internet Access update that makes it efficient on Netflix.
Until then, we can only dream of watching Netflix with Private Internet Access.
Other Streaming Services
Hulu is another popular streaming site that brings us entertaining shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale.
Unfortunately, this service is only available to American users. Hence, one needs a VPN to access it in other countries.
Similarly, PIA VPN also unblocks Live TV channels on Kodi. This media player streams tons of videos free.
But you need a VPN to watch Live TV channels from around the world.
I have a list of many other providers that helps you stream anonymously. Here is a list of our fastest VPN for Kodi.
Perfection is rarity in the world of Virtual Private Networks. Hence, even a fantastic VPN service has some flaws.
Does Private Internet Access Allow P2P?
Torrents work as a double-edged sword. They allow you to download a variety of content while also exposing your device to multiple threats.
To use torrent safely, you need a VPN, preferably one that is not afraid of copyright allows.
PIA mentions that it supports P2P activities. It is also a go-to VPN for millions of torrent users.
Leaks – DNS, IP, WebRTC, & App File Check Tests
PIA VPN doesn’t leak your IP, DNS and WebRTC information.
DNS leak protection routes through the dedicated Private Internet Access DNS servers. This puts an extra layer of security on your connection.
As you see, I tested the VPN for any potential leaks and the results showed no DNS, IP, or WebRTC leak.
I also tested its Windows setup file to see if it contained any viruses or not.
Unfortunately, the setup file did contain at least one virus.
Trustworthiness – Logging Policy, GDPR Compliance, Transparency, Support, & Trustpilot Reviews
PIA VPN follows no-logging policy in true letter and spirit.
Every VPN promises to store no logs at all. Yet, not all deliver on that promise. In fact, on the contrary, many VPNs have handed over customer data to third parties.
In my opinion, VPN providers should be crystal clear about what user they keep or not. If they record customer data for any purpose at all, they should come clean.
Most importantly, the VPN makes it clear that keeps no logs customer activity.
Complies with GDPR
Private Internet Access is included in the list of GDPR compliant VPNs. If you want to know how PIA uses your personal information, you are allowed to do so.
After abiding by all the guidelines of GDPR in the right way, PIA has improved its reputation in the minds of their existing and potential users to a new plane.
To know about other VPNs those follow GDPR accordingly, read this detailed guide.
Clear Stance over Transparency
Upon reviewing Private Internet Access in detail, I was impressed to know that the VPN is putting all the hard work to protect its users’ privacy appropriately.
Above all, they have started publishing their transparency reports on a regular basis. These reports include all the information that relate to subpoena, warrants and legal orders.
To my surprise, PIA has not given any users’ personal data to law enforcement or other relevant authorities.
Customer Service: No Live Chat, Tickets Only
Customer service representative is often a lifesaver when you are in the middle of a hassle.
Moreover, Customer services add value to the product purchased and probably augment retention.
Unfortunately, I learned while writing the PIA VPN review 2019, the service has done away with its Live Chat feature.
Instead, it has opted the more classical email ticketing system.
The providers answer Email queries within 10 to 12 hours. The replies are comprehensive, clear and helpful.
The good news is that the providers still offer a knowledgebase, Guides, and a Blog. With the help of these services, you can setup this VPN on any of your preferred devices.
Nevertheless, there is no such as Live Chat when you need quick solutions.
PIA VPN Trustpilot Reviews
PIA has attained 7.9 rating on Trustpilot based on 5100+ user reviews.
Trustpilot is filled with overwhelming positive Private Internet Access reviews. Many users praise the speeds of the VPN.
Some subscribers praise this service for good prices and plenty of good options.
Compatibility – Supports Different Platforms & Devices
PIA is compatible with various platforms and devices.
These platforms are Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Likewise, it also provides different browsing extensions like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
You can install PIA on your router through an OpenVPN protocol manually.
This way, you can install Private Internet Access on smart TVs and gaming consoles hassle-free.
PureVPN vs Private Internet Access
If you want to compare between PureVPN and Private Internet Access, you can explore the below-mentioned table:
|Servers||2000+ in 140 Countries||3,341+ in 32 Countries|
|Compatibility||All Devices||All Devices|
|Jurisdiction||Hong Kong||United States|
|Logging Policy||Zero Log||Does not Keep logs|
|Customer Support||Live & Email Support & Contact Us||Knowledgebase & Tickets|
Alternatives to PIA VPN
If you aren’t satisfied with the features offered by PIA, then you have a ton of best VPNs to choose from:
- NordVPN Review 2019
- ExpressVPN Review 2019
- Ivacy Review 2019
- Surfshark Review 2019
- CyberGhost Review 2019
Do I Recommend Private Internet Access?
Yes, I recommend Private Internet Access.
PIA is arguably one of the most popular VPNs in the industry. The service is a brainchild of London Trust Media, Inc.
In this Private Internet Access review, I tested its server network performance, OpenVPN protocol, and 256-bit encryption too.
After thorough analysis and testing of package plans and features representing Private Internet Access VPN, I can conclude that PIA offers feature-rich package plans at an affordable price.
Not only this, PIA has a wide range of servers allowing you to break through divergent geo-restrictions.
DNS Leak Protection in addition is a feature that adjoins more value to the package plans.
PIA VPN does not depict much effect on either Internet speed or ping; hence, it can be considered as a viable alternative.
Nonetheless, PIA does not offer a free trial, which will probably be a loophole hindering purchase decision of many.
I therefore give 3.6/5.0 to the service in my review.
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